Framatome and USNC team up to produce TRISO fuel at Framatome facility

November 29, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Image: USNC

Framatome Inc. and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. (USNC) signed an agreement on November 28 at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris, France, establishing a joint venture to manufacture nuclear fuel for USNC’s gas-cooled microreactor and other advanced reactor designs. Working together, the companies plan to produce commercial quantities of TRISO fuel particles and USNC’s proprietary Fully Ceramic Microencapsulated (FCM) fuel, which contains TRISO fuel particles within a ceramic fuel pellet.

According to the two companies, “Framatome will leverage its expertise, proven infrastructure, and mature programs to ensure that USNC’s processes are efficiently deployed and operating, while USNC will bring technical manufacturing capabilities and expertise.” The joint venture plans to manufacture TRISO particles and FCM fuel starting in 2026.

Framatome facilities: Framatome plans to amend its “manufacturing and regulatory licensing” to incorporate “proven and codified processes” similar to those developed at USNC’s Pilot Fuel Manufacturing Facility (PFM) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Framatome has notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its intent to submit an amendment in summer 2024 and has conducted a prelicensing briefing with NRC personnel in advance of the amendment submittal, according to the companies’ announcement.

They said it: “Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation is at the forefront of the next generation of nuclear energy, and together, we are committed to developing new opportunities in the nuclear energy industry through this joint venture,” said Bernard Fontana, chief executive officer of Framatome. “Combining our unmatched manufacturing expertise and experience in regulatory compliance, and USNC’s advanced reactor designs, we are ready to support rapid expansion of fourth-generation nuclear power to meet the projected growth and demand for safe, reliable, clean energy in the U.S. and global markets.”

“Framatome’s leadership in nuclear energy is built in part on a solid foundation of excellence, innovation, quality, and delivery of increasingly high-performance, advanced fuels,” said Francesco Venneri, USNC CEO. “This joint venture brings Framatome’s high-quality capabilities and high-confidence capacity together with Ultra Safe Nuclear’s breakthrough fuel technologies and intrinsically safe design to fuel the MMR.”

USNC’s microreactor, dubbed a Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR), is a helium-cooled, high-temperature reactor that can operate at between 10 MWt and 45 MWt and produce up to 15 MW of electricity. USNC is engaged in licensing efforts with regulators in Canada and the United States, with planned projects at Chalk River and the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, both targeting first operation in 2028.

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